I was talking to Richard from the Drinkstore yesterday and he was telling me that most of the Irish Craft Breweries have inked a deal to supply Tescos. Needless to say, he's very disappointed with this turn of events.
I'm quite conflicted myself. On the plus side, it would appear to be a good deal for the micros- they get to move volume and it cuts down on the logistics for them. However, I hope it doesn't come back to bite them on the arse when Tescos inevitably start dictating prices and selling below cost.
For me, I don't shop in Tescos and this is not going to make me start either. However, I do worry I won't have access to the full range of Irish Craft Brews anymore as the independent off-licenses suddenly find that they are not being supplied anymore. Or worse- we start losing independents when they are forced out of the market because they cannot compete at the price points.
Finally, I do wonder if Tescos appeals to the right demographic for craft brew. Or are we just seeing another Smithwicks Pale Ale play here.
I spotted this a few weeks ago with O`Hara`s Irish Red being price matched with Aldi. The problem I have with buying from the supermarket is you don`t get that personal touch you do from the off licences that stock craft beer. For me it is more about the experience of going into the drink store and talking about the beer as much as the purchase! Since things went south with the economy in Ireland both myself and my wife try to support the small retailer and business more (even at a slighly higher price). I think the intimacy of the experience will be removed by Tesco and all you will be left with is a bottle of beer.
I remember taking this photo in Tesco a while ago and wondering what they were going to replace the Bulmers with...
I guess I have my answer now. I hope that it is a good thing in the long run, creates more awareness of craft beer and allows the micros to grow.
It also brings Irish craft to a far wider audience and I'm not just talking about the great unwashed. A lot of craft beer drinkers/supporters outside the big population centers have very little access to ICB's.
While having what I would consider a good off licence in the 2nd to nearest town to me, the only Irish beers they stock are Dungarvan and Porterhouse.
There are plenty of Irish beers I've yet to get my hands on and in that regard this would be a welcome development as far as I can see.